From my perspective as a certified Apple Watcher and technology gadget collector, there are two types of technology innovations, and both impact Apple, and the company’s customers, especially expectations.
The first is disruptive innovation. We all know what that means. A new product that sets the standard for a business segment. Think Mac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, Watch. The second is ongoing incremental innovation. Think of all the improvements that come to a product with every new release. Steve Jobs’ Apple was into disruptive innovation. Tim Cook’s Apple is into incremental innovation.
Walt. Said. So.
Just this week famed technologist Walt Mossberg fired a verbal shot (in written word; they’re connected) across Apple’s parking lot at One Infinite Loop in Cupertino, CA. in a headline that read, “The iPhone 7 Had Better Be Spectacular.”
Why? Because Apple under Tim Cook’s reign has become predictable and boring and whatever new products Apple has lined up for the rest of 2016 need to be more exciting than what’s been delivered so far this year. This is Tim Cook’s Apple and it differs markedly from Steve Jobs’ Apple these days. What’s expected, arrives on a schedule. What’s not expected, should surprise, but there’s not much surprise to go around these days.
One must agree with uncle Walt that the new iPhone SE and 9.7-inch iPad Pro are great new devices, but they’re incremental improvements over products that exist already. Walt says the new iPhone 6 line is the best you can buy, but Samsung’s hardware, not to mention other manufacturers who, somehow, manage to stay in business by shipping high quality and low volumes, is catching up and in some ways surpasses what comes out of Cupertino’s China offices.
It’s been said that Tim Cook is the guy who makes Apple’s train run on time. Jobs job was to dream up fabulous new products and designs and features and functions that ignited our imaginations and warmed our hearts. But Jobs is gone. Today, Apple’s train runs on time and every new product upgrade is better than the last but also fails to excite either masses or critics.
Incremental innovation and iterative improvements are the name of the game everywhere, Apple included, but all we’re doing is expecting the expected. What of iPhone 7 expectations?
- Battery – longer battery life; everyone wants it, nobody gives it
- Screen – Apple doesn’t like OLEDs, but all the big boys have ’em
- Charging – where is the wireless?
- Chin – get rid of the iPhone’s chin and home button
- Forehead – replace the non-screen area at the top with more screen
- Large to Small – think large screen but smaller body
- Waterproof – iPhone should still work after a flush
- Camera – have you seen the photos from Samsung’s Galaxy S7?
- Storage – stop using it to gouge customers or make them pay more for minimal storage
- Easy grip – stop making customers buy cases because the back is so slippery
- Better Apps – Even Apple’s own iOS apps have issues
The problem with this little iPhone 7 wish list is that everything on the list is an incremental innovation, an iterative improvement. There’s no gee whiz anywhere anymore. Yes, there’s improved Touch ID, the nifty 3D Touch which seldom gets use, ‘Hey Siri…’ and more, but where’s the sizzle? Where’s the spectacular?